Stepping into Who I Am

Linda1My dear friend over at Single Working Mom inspired me to write about how we, as women, seem to lose ourselves in our effort to ‘fit’. Visit her post, which inspired this one here.

Stepping into who I am, I think that is what I have been trying to do for more than a year maybe even more than a decade. I simply didn’t know this is what I was doing. All the small acts of rebellion, the tiny bits and pieces I kept trying to reclaim, that was me saying to the world and those who wished me to be otherwise; really, just leave me be to find me in a world I never truly fit or that never fit me perfectly.

I fail to understand why it is so difficult for women especially to claim ourselves completely, to step into the space we occupy without apology. It seems though, there are very few of us who are not in some way apologizing for who or what we are on a daily basis. We bow to the whims of those who dictate to us the terms of beauty and desirability allowing our self-worth to be undermined by how others define it and thus what we see in the mirror is far too often unacceptable, unbeautiful and unworthy of love.

Far too many of us, reshape ourselves to be what others want of us and accept harsh judgment as truth when we fail to meet standards which are either impossible, not our choice, even sometimes ridiculous. We shrink to take up less space, we speak softly or not at all so as not offend, we apologize for our opinions and our needs and do so without thinking in doing so we are apologizing for ourselves, for our very being. We accept harsh words as truth and demands to change ourselves, make ourselves different so we might fit another person’s fantasy, simply so they will touch us in the night, with the light off.

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When I read For Me and For Her it got me thinking about all the things I had done over the course of my nearly 15 year marriage that I resented and how I have slowly begun to shed them. It also got me thinking about the shell I have slowly started to crack open around me, about as I said how I am beginning to step into myself into who I am, perhaps who I was meant to be. I am certain I have a very long way to go before I am fully in the moment with myself, nevertheless it is a starting point and one I believe I should own with pride. I think it is difficult when we are in the middle of hurting to realize how much we give up, so someone will love us. Sometimes how much we lose of ourselves so the person we promised to love will continue to love us.

I am finding I don’t want to be loved if it isn’t for the me that is real; hardheaded, opinionated, pragmatic, softhearted, introverted and creative; someone who has lived life fully and been down a few dark alleys. I don’t want to be touched if it isn’t touching me with the lights on, seeing all of me; scars, dimpled flesh, imperfections, tattoos all of me. I don’t want to be made over. I don’t want to be hidden.

These words hurt me, still hurt me on some level and I am still fighting to breathe through them and find me behind them.

“You are more beautiful as a blonde that as how I met you and that is how you should stay.”

“You are too pale, I think you are more beautiful with a tan. You look too White without one.”

“I hate when you let your hair grow. You look better when it is short and I am not as attracted to you when it is long.”

“If you get a tattoo I will divorce you.”


Here is the thing about all of those, they all represented ‘things’ that were not me.

  1. I am a natural brunette. My natural color is damned near black, though now days it has a great deal of grey.
  2. I have pale olive toned skin. I love my complexion, though I tan easily for years I have protected my skin. Further, tanning is dangerous this didn’t seem to matter so long as I wasn’t too White. What the hell did this mean anyway?
  3. The first time I cut my hair it was down to the middle of my back. I cut it because I couldn’t brush it, I cut it because I was recovering from gunshots and I needed to make life easier for myself. I never intended to keep it short and certainly not that short. Yes, it was funky and fun, especially the pale blonde, but it was hard to maintain. I never felt like me.
  4. When we met I had Tattoo’s, it wasn’t a secret I didn’t hide them. I also made no secret I want more. Why did I ever allow myself to be bullied into a corner?

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Worse, yes even worse than being bullied into a corner. Why did I allow myself to feel unlovable, undesirable and without value simply because of cruel words and the lack of touch. Now, a year later I am beginning to figure some of it out, some of the hurt is falling away and letting me see what is beneath. I don’t love what I see, but I do love that I am able to reach into the hurt and find me.

It is these slow and careful steps we take, these questions we ask that allow us to walk into the world fully owning the space we inhabit, not asking for forgiveness or how we can mold ourselves to fit another person’s desires. I want to be desired, loved and wanted for me, just me. I want to be chased around the room and thrown on the bed, because I am me not someone else but me. I want my words to enflame passion, my heart to sooth, my body to excite and my soul to provide a resting place. I want all of that to be just me, without a demand for change.

So I will continue to step into who I am and tell those who think I should be otherwise to take a flying leap.


  1. Good for you Valentine! You look gorgeous in every one of those photos! You need to believe that first and foremost. People who say all those negative things are insecure themselves.

    • Ah Thank You my friend. I felt wonderful in those. I remind myself, just how wonderful. More than this though, I remind myself how much life I have left to live.

  2. You are amazing and inspiring, Val! Keep taking the steps – we are with you.

  3. Val, is good to see you emerging into you are.. And to become that person we need to be true to ourselves… You are now starting to see the only person you need to please is YOU.. And its so good to see…
    Loved the series of photo’s… and like others have said here I love the upside down one too 🙂
    Love and Hugs my friend xxx Sue

    • You know Sue, it is baby steps. Sometimes it is steps forwards, then back and then forwards again. Sometimes, like this time someone else pulls me forward into myself, reminds me.

      I love that picture also. Actually I have that one hanging over my bed to remind me of what peace looks like.

      {{{{{ ❤ }}}}}

  4. A good reflection, but one question is stuck in my mind. Are these also trials and tribulations also for males?

  5. That a girl! If not now, when? If not today, maybe never! I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject. I’ve had to let go of a couple friends of 30/40 years who were only my friends as long as I conformed to their image. When I got tired of being completely inauthentic (I plan to exit this Earth as completely “real” as I can be), I literally announced to them that I was changing, and I did. They haven’t spoken to me since. After I got over the shock, I felt better than I’ve felt in years, and everyday is full of joy and grace. The “real” me is having a blast–discovering all sorts of delightful things about myself. I like me, I really like me! You go girl! High-five, my friend! 🙂

  6. You are courageous, Val! May you continue to step right out and be yourself! Loved the photos.

  7. Are these new pictures, Val? You dancing? If so, you’re absolutely glowing with beauty! Hope it is so. You’ve come a looooooooooooong way, baby! xoxo

  8. Changing for another’s approval strikes me as a big red flag, Val. You’re forfeiting who you are and what makes you unique. I think that will only lead to feelings of diminished self-worth. Putting you down for your body art or your hair color screams that you were part of a bad match. I think the best relationships are when people accept each other and do not become Dr. Frankenstein in an effort to remake their partner. I’m glad that as you age, you’ve learned from your past, you’re continuing to grow and you’re so much wiser. Also, you still look cool.

    • Still looking cool, that is the best compliment! I think we don’t notice so many of the red flags for what they are until we look at them in retrospect. I didn’t notice them for a very long time because they were spaced so far apart, they weren’t hammering me, but instead like drops of water wearing me down. Does that make sense?

  9. You are brave and stronger, Valentine, than you ever thought you could be, and getting even better. I’m so happy for you. Thank you for this inspiring post.

    • I don’t know this is brave so much as simply a need to breathe, to reclaim the space I am supposed to occupy. Why should we give up what little bit of the world we are given, the fundamental of who we are simply so someone will ‘love’ us. Doesn’t make sense, does it?

  10. You are such an inspiration to me. As terrifying as it is to step up and take charge of ourselves, it’s so much easier to know that other women have taken this same journey. Thank you.

    • thank you, truly. I think we all live in this space at one time or another. The decision to move through it and beyond it, no matter the consequences is scary as hell. So we do it anyway, dammit we have the right to take up space and be happy, without apology.

  11. I’ve found in my experience that “fitting in” isn’t a good thing. I’ve accepted that I won’t and it’s okay. If there’s any part of you that you don’t like, choose not to like it because you don’t like it, not because of how someone else thinks. It’s a hole you find yourself in after a long relationship of nit-picking away at one’s self-worth but shake the dust off. It’s never worth holding onto but you already know that.

    • I am learning, I held on without knowing. It was strange to have some of those feelings hanging about in the back of my heart. Now, I must make a conscious effort to eradicate them.

  12. Such a wonderfully honest post and one many women (and probably men, too) can relate to. It does seem we give pieces of ourselves away to others over the years. Getting the confidence to reclaim those pieces can be challenging, and it’s one of the reasons life is a series of distinct chapters rather than a continuous story. We’re often trying to get back to ourselves, or at least the self we first identified with.

    Love the slide shows. Your beautiful smile is infectious.

    • I thought the transitions were important to what I was trying to say, thank you. Someone else told me to smile more often in pictures, the funny thing about all those is they were taken without me knowing. I hate to have my picture taken.

      You are so correct, we give ourselves away. We disappear into others, whether it is marriage, lovers or even work. We forget the ‘I’ and allow ourselves to be defined by something other than who we truly are or wish to be. Misery can only follow, at least this is my experience.

  13. Absolutely, positively beautiful. We are more than the “things” we have or do… although one of the things I cherish most in my life is the friendships I have with strong women such as you xx

    • I value the women in my life more than you can possibly know Christy. I have found they have held me up and cherished me, more than I ever expected. It is an amazing thing, this community.

  14. Hey, you better be careful and stop walking around up-side-down like when you were 50 as the picture indicates.

  15. Mr. Militant Negro says:

    Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.

  16. I’m weeping as I read your words. I’m right now where you were a year ago. And I want to fast-forward thru this mess. Why didn’t I choose myself all these years? Why did I listen to her m, to his mother (of all people), to my mother. This healing is going to take a long time, and my head doesn’t feel clear or calm. As for wanting another man to touch me? Not now. I’ve got to get back to myself. Thanks for this piece, Val. I need to get that book!

    • Oh Renee, honey there is no fast forward. I take so many steps backwards, even in a day. But then I read something like the link and a light goes off, I realize all the things I have done to free myself. It is worth writing them down, it is worth saying I am not alone. It is worth saying this isn’t just me but so many of us. Mostly it is worth putting it out there, maybe so others will hear it and say, “Yes, Me Too”.

      As for touch and men. I miss touch. I do. But I will wait for the right man and the right touch. I can do that, I am not desperate for it.

      {{{{{{{ ❤ }}}}}}}

  17. I have been in the same situation as you. Now, 9 months later I am finally accepting who I am and am proud of me. I have cut my hair, dressed how I wanted and do what I want. I was sick of being told that I didn’t have any fashion sense, I walked wrong, I talked wrong, I ate wrong. He was just a bully. I feel so liberated and free. My children are doing better as well. 😀

    • Just yes. To all you have said, just yes. All of it is so freeing, scary as hell sometimes but freeing. I am still figuring it out but each step feels as if I am pushing harder into something more empowering and powerful.

  18. You go girl. We love you just the way you are (a great line from Bridget Jones)

    • Ah Elyse, I am still finding ‘who I am’. Still struggling with all the bits and pieces I let fly. I am most fortunate in the those who found me and boosted me up (you most included in that most loved group). All of you give me great courage to reach for more.

  19. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    I am so happy for you & the fact that you’ve chosen this path …. Stepping into who you are!!

  20. georgiakevin says:

    Your post speaks truth very loudly. It takes real courage to stand up and be yourself no matter what anyone thinks! may we all have that courage, may we respect all others who do, pity those who lack such courage and hope that one day soon they will find the courage necessary to be themselves.

    • Thank you. I think for me though, maybe it is fear I will never be me fully and completely if I don’t grab hold now and no matter what. Courage, that might come I can only hope so.

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